Bioethics Blogs

Talking Plasma and Markets with my Mother

Matthew Herder shares a conversation with his mother about why she is a regular plasma donor.


My mother came for a brief visit to Halifax in early April. One evening during her visit, she heard a story on CBC about Canadian Plasma Resources and its for-profit operations in Saskatchewan. She recited the story’s narrative as she went up the stairs to bed. Plasma (the watery part of blood that contains red blood cells) was in short supply and we needed a company like Canadian Plasma Resources to collect more plasma.

I asked my mother if she could spare a few minutes to talk to me about her experience as a donor of whole blood and plasma.

Mum, how long have you been giving blood and why do you do it?

Since 2010. Thanks to your sister. She got me started. Just something, she thought, that was easy to do. I always thought that because I was O+, that they didn’t need my blood. But that was stupid; as the most common blood type, they sure could use it.

How many donations of whole blood and plasma have you made?

Seventy-five donations in total. Originally, I was a whole blood donor. But you can only do that every 56 days and so I’ve probably only given whole blood ten times or so. But if you do that consistently, they [Canadian Blood Services] start asking you to donate plasma or platelets. Until they know you’re a regular, they won’t ask you about donating plasma because this takes a full hour and donating platelets takes two hours.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by these authors and blogs are theirs and do not necessarily represent that of the Bioethics Research Library and Kennedy Institute of Ethics or Georgetown University.